3. Rely on Gizmos so you can keep talking

Guisboro Moor - Christmas 2001

Anyway, so he'd bought this GPS thing - to take the fun out of getting lost, as he'd explained to the man in the GPS and walking pole shop. He'd put in all these way pointy things and by selecting each one in order he would tell me what a good dog I was and did I know it was 28.6 miles to the top of Guisboro Moor from our house, and at this speed it would take us 43.543 hours to get there.

Oddly enough, the second waypoint he'd put in, a cairn, apparently, was 253 miles in the opposite direction - somewhere just visible from the highest point on St Kilda, if you stand on a chair.

Denis's mate Dave came along for this trip. He's a nice enough bloke, but very repetitive, with his mantra-like chant of "Are you sure this is right?"

So, we left Guisboro in an incipient blizzard (how many dogs do you know who can say incipient eh?) - and, by judicial following of a ten-foot wide strip of ice, or "path", as they're known locally, we found the top.

So far so good. Sardines still in an unsullied, virginal state.

After lunch (which went very meanly unshared in my opinion) - there was a moment of hesitation. After about 200 yards we turned through 180 degrees, not including magnetic variation and wind speed, and found another strip of ice to follow.

Bernie the blizzard was now in full thrash, chucking snow about and blowing me ears out so I had that surprised look.

Then we entered the wood. Denis explained quite lucidly and convincingly that, just beyond the wood, and over the hill, the small Cleveland market town of Guisborough would be spread out like a map below our feet.

So we followed the forest ice strips like good-uns, Denis and Dave discussing whether or not Marcel Proust's dad really was a milkman in Spennymoor and why the Humblebums never made it into the top ten in 1967. Then we popped out of the wood on the other side and, sure enough, there, spread out below us like a map, wasn't Guisboro.

In fact, spread out before us was a bleak and snowy hill. That is, uphill, as opposed to down hill. Denis switched on his GPS, which had begun to look quite a bit like that old torch - it was the same colour and everything.

A display came up on the screen. "You're bloody lost, mate" it said. "And by the way, its going dark in twenty minutes" " Oh, and its now 294 miles to waypoint two, and at this speed (2.1 miles an hour on average) , you'll be 68 years old when you get there. I'm going to have a rest now cos I've got a weak signal due to all these trees. Have a nice day. G'night"

Can't be right, he decided. Anyway, it wasn't so bad - just a lot of deep heather and snow and flapping ears and a bit of swearing. There had obviously been some kind of shift in the space/time continuum Denis explained later.

Happens all the time.


© Mike Knipe. Mike Knipe is an experienced outdoor enthusiast, walk leader and writer who has worked with Durham County Council and English Nature (aka Natural England).

Other articles by Mike Knipe on go4awalk.com include: The Mike Knipe Column, The Art of Getting Lost . . . , How to start Peak Bagging . . . , How to sound like a walking expert . . . (writing as Gnasher the Dog) and Is That A Mitt In Your Pocket - Or Are You Just Pleased To See Me?




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